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Tortilla chip battle: Discount brand vs. store brand vs. Name brand

Tortilla restaurant styleBy Mike Thayer

Tortilla chips, the foundation of so many fantastic snack and appetizer creations, 'chips & salsa', nachos, 'chips & guacamole', 'chips & bean dip'....  they're also good used as a crunchy topping for just about any Tex/Mex casserole dish.  Having a good chip puts all those great foods in tasty motion. 

Then there's all the styles of tortilla chips, the traditional triangle shape, round, 'restaurant' style, 'Cantina' style, 'Cafe' style, scoops and strips.  For the most part that's all just marketing, they're all still just plain 'ol corn tortilla chips, the only real differences being shapes and varying degrees of thickness. 

What matters is having a chip that holds up to dipping/topping, has the right balance of salt and provides a good crunch.

But do you need a name brand chip to do that?  And does a name brand even guarantee the highest chip quality?  I say no, never mind the extra expense.

In a bit of an impromptu tortilla chip battle, I purchased one bag each of a discount brand, a grocery store brand and a name brand chip.  Here are the results:

Discount brand: Clancy's "Restaurant Style" Tortilla Chips

Tortilla Clancy'sOK, these are standard, triangle shaped tortilla chips, the only thing that makes these "Restaurant Style" is that the triangle shape is the most popular, a.k.a., standard shape of tortilla chips out there, be it at a restaurant or in a bag.  I got this 13 ounce bag at Aldi for $0.89.  It doesn't get much cheaper than that, translating to just 6.8 cents per ounce.  And these chips are just as good as any other.  They're good out of the bag, fine for dipping or topping and chip breakage is no more or less than any other bagged chip. 

Store brand: Kroger Tortilla Rounds

Kroger Tortilla RoundsI wonder if anybody really cares what shape a tortilla chip comes in, they all dip, top and eat pretty much the same....  jus say'n.  I purchased this bag of 10 ounce chips for $1.99, or 19 cents per ounce.  That's still a reasonable price, but a significant jump up from the discount brand.  Like the Clancy's, the Kroger brand eats fine out of the bag and dips/tops just as well.  The only nuance here besides the shape is these are 100% yellow corn, so if you're into that - white corn vs. yellow corn vs. blue corn - by all means help yourself.  To me, the type of corn and shape of the chip is insignificant unless you're overly concerned with presentation.

Don't pay too much...

Name brand:  Tostitos Original

I picked up a 13 ounce bag of the name brand classic for $2.98.  That breaks down to 23 cents per ounce, making this the most expensive chips of the battle - no surprise there.  Did it taste better?  No.  Was it better with dip?  Nope.  Was it better topped with other goodies?  Uh-uh.  Did these chips break off any more or less when dipping than the other chips tested?  No difference.  How about the chip breakage at the bottom of the bag?  The same as any other.

Don't pay too much for tortilla chips!  In this tortilla chip battle, all chips performed pretty much the same in every way consumed, out of the bag, dipped and topped.  Clancy's comes out on top, the least expensive, an equal chip to any other.

Smoked chicken & salsa nachos
Smoked chicken & salsa nachos

Side note:  While regular tortilla chips are all pretty much the same, flavored tortilla chips on the other hand are a different story.  There is no better chip than Nacho Cheese Doritos in my humble opinion and any knock off version of that great chip just comes up short.  Nobody else can get that Nacho Cheese flavor right.  What about all those other flavored tortilla chips, how do they stack up?  Stay tuned....

$pend Wisely My Friends.....




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